New Support for Grandparents Raising Kids

Cities start to dedicate housing to these families

By Rich Thomaselli

Cities across the country are starting to recognize the need to offer financial assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren.

The city of Newark, N.J., in March became the latest municipality to do just that, when the City Council approved a $525,000 loan to build a housing development for seniors raising their grandchildren. The Newark Star-Ledger reported the project is believed to be the first of its kind in the city.

Although the newspaper reported that Boston has been at the forefront of the movement — the city used a combination of public money and private donations to build a $4 million housing complex in 1997 for grandparents raising their grandchildren — awareness of the problem has only intensified more recently.

According to AARP, 4.5 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents, and another 1.5 million in households headed by other relatives. Of those 6 million, AARP research shows that 2.5 million children are without their parents.

And it isn’t just the elderly raising the kids. AARP data showed that the average age of a first-time grandparent is 48, and the average age of grandparents raising children falls into the 50- to 59-year-old group — a time when many older adults are preparing for retirement.

More social challenges have disrupted the traditional grandparent relationship. Substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, death, and financial difficulties are all contributing factors to the changing dynamic of grandparents and relatives serving as caregivers.

Deborah Whitley, the director of the National Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a research center at the University of Georgia, told the Star-Ledger that one of the biggest challenges for grandparents is finding affordable housing. Fortunately, she said, politicians are reacting.

“Finding accommodations that serve both of these needs at the same time is a trend that is being addressed across the nation,” Whitley said.

In Chicago, the nonprofit Renaissance Collaborative is helping to develop a "senior campus" in the city that will feature three buildings: an affordable apartment building for seniors, an assisted-living building, and an apartment building for grandfamilies.

“Seniors have needs and kids have needs. But they all need a supportive environment,” Patricia Abrams, executive director of Renaissance Collaborative, told the Chicago Tribune.

Similar housing has been built in Los Angeles and New York.

Comments

My husband and I are raising our granddaughter she has been in our home since she was born,we got gaurdinship when she was a month old and got custody 5 years ago. She will be 9 in June Now the dad wants custody he is a felon habital offener dosent have a driver's license can't keep a job 15,000 behind in child support..Our granddaughter doesn't have a close bond with him he was in jail for 2 and half years.But can't quit worring about losing her. She a straight A student.Our world and also hers would be turned up side down if we lost her...........

katjim1234 on 2014-04-01 10:05:07

Me and my husband are raising our four grand children. Cps placed them with us and we went through the system and became foster parents then legally adopted. We still have a relationship with our son but it has always been strained. He blames us for losing his children. I don't think he has yet figured out that we had no plans of being full time parents all over again. We are still putting our youngest through college and now raising children 9,6.5 and 3. We love them so much but it has changed everything. Our group of friends, the way we spend vacations, our retirement our desire to downsize our home and now we are searching for a larger home. The other major problems are the children see us as mom and dad (we adopted them very young) and my son gets mad and wants them to call him daddy. He sees them maybe 5 times a year. So our concern for the well being of the children trumps his identity problem. I have been looking for a support group to talk about the changes in our lives. As well as dealing with our son and his new girlfriend and the announcement that she is now pregnant. I pray she can take care of this baby because our house is full and we just can't handle any more. I'm only 45 but feeling really old lol!!

Manyhats04 on 2013-12-26 22:12:23

Hi I am a grandparent raising my grandchildren. We got our grandchildren out of foster care and waited it for it all to unfold. (good or bad). The rights were terminated on both parents and we have since adopted them. Things are going good. The kids are very busy with sports and school. If they lived longer in the bad situations longer they would be troubled children. I am the only one who talks to my daughter and its been 6 years and she is still blaming us for taking her children. We will not allow her to see or talk to them as she still has a long way to go to keep her mouth shut around the kids. Perhaps never? I feel all of us are bright angels in our grand kids lives!! It is hard!!! Real hard but they need us healthy body and minded. So when my daughter starts in yelling and ranting at me I just hang up!!! turn off the land line!!! I know nothing about the interstate stuff and will say a prayer for you and your grands!!!! Take a deep breath take time out for you and keep trudging away!! We love you!! And so do your grand babys..... Blessing grandparents!!!

Phia1245 on 2013-10-17 12:16:56

I remember all to well the waiting period of an interstate foster care. And I am still dealing with two states. As I look back the interstate in the begining to prepare seemed overwhelming but not so much now. I have climbed the mountain tops. Interstate adds a new stress to the situation. I had RI DCYF the kids lawyers from RI and CT DCYF in my home. The medical insurance was a nightmare since it did not cross state lines and I had to apply to DSS in CT in order to get bills paid. The children have been in my home since Sept 2010. I had to travel to RI for court cases and deal with two DCYFs. I did a legal guardianship Sept 2012 and my guardianship was done in RI so I get no benefits from CT in which I live because I have a RI guardianship. My daughter lost her kids to DCYF in RI in June 2010. My ex husband's family had the first chance to help the grandkids but due to their criminal history DCYF removed them from their homes. I asked my son's godmother and her husband to care for them since they lived in RI and they did. Then I started my process of the interstate stuff and they moved in Sept 2010. The battle of interstate cases is very extensive and it does not stop once they get to your home. Medical insurance was an issue. The expenses of having to deal with an out of state court (transportation) I even asked the court to transfer the case since everyone including mom was living in CT it never happened. Now mom wants her kids back and we are in CT superior court in which the judge can rule on it since we have been liviing in CT for over 6 months all of us. BUT the CT judge does not have the full case and it is baffling me on how one can rule on a case you do not have. I contacted family custody lawyers which charge 300 per hour out of my price range so now my new project is to get as much of the case to the judge in CT. I contacted CT DCYF legal department in which they have some of the case still waiting to see if they will provide me with the information and contact the junivelle court in RI and have to get a legal document notarized send in a copy of my license 25 dollars to the head judge and wait to see wait can be provided. I remember one of the support workers from CT came to my home and asked how do you eat a dianosour. I looked at her strange as to why she would ask such a question she said one piece at a time. She knew it would be a long battle and it has been and you can do things only in pieces. I have wanted to throw in the towel many times because i get fustrated. I am also dealing with my daughter who has a drug problem and lies, steals etc. There are no benefits for grandparents like parents can get. After I did a guardianship everyone wants to use my income which I did not do an adoption. Then it burns me when grandparents come up to me and say I love being a grandma well I do too if I had just the grandma time not the full time parenting role. The CT court did know my daughter was charged with Neglect from dcyf RI. They do not know what happened over the three plus years and it wasn't called trying. My daughter hates my guts because i stopped her child support she received for two years without her children. She does not buy her kids anything. The fathers have no interest. Oh that brings up another interstate I have too one of the fathers live in Ohio in which mother recieved his child support payments for two years with no child. That really got to me. Well when I did the guardianhship in RI it finally stopped the child support going to her because I needed it. That pissed her off oh well. I filed that sept 2012 and it had to go in front of a judge in Ohio before it can be transfered to me. As of today I am still waiting. It has been a total nightmare!

dstuff47 on 2013-09-10 21:23:54

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